Journals by Lizzie Borden’s lawyer Andrew J. Jennings to be conserved and published

The Jennings’ journals surface after 120 years

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The Jenning’s Journals. People has searched for a final clue here. Did she or didn’t she?
Andrew Jackson Jennings (1849-1923) was Lizzie Borden’s attorney during the two weeks of trial in 1893. Lizzie herself had already spend 9 months in prison prior up to the trial. During the trial about a year after the murders the prosecution received several blows. Lizzie Borden’s inquest was not considered valid since she was high on morphine when the police questioned her. Her attorney also complained her legal rights was set aside a she was questioned without any attorney present. The autopsies didn’t reveal any signs of poison being present so the pharmacist testimony about Lizzie trying to buy prussic acid (cyanide) a day before the murders was ruled out.

THE CONSERVATION OF THE JENNING’S JOURNAL is good news to all people interested in the local history of Falls City, New England and the murder case. The murder of Lizzie Borden’s parents remains one of the most sensational and unsolved crimes in the american history. As the prime suspect Lizzie Borden was found not guilty of murder the local citizens of Fall River alienated her and the nursery rhyme Lizzie Borden took an axe…rendered her guilty for all time.

The Jennings’ journals consists of a scrap-book with newspaper clips concerning the unsolved case and a reference ledger. At time miss Borden had the best attorney money could buy at this time, Andrew Jackson Jennings. When the journals were opened people searched for evidence of Lizzie’s guilt. There was none. If Lizzie had confessed murder to her lawyer he certainly wouldn’t have written anything down about it which would be left to other people to read about. 

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Lizzie A. Borden (1860-1927)
THE TRIAL of Lizzie Borden has often been compared to O.J Simpson’s trial. Both were rich and was accused of double-murder. Both faced death penalty.  Both had good lawyers who may have helped them get away with murder. During the trials media showed a great interest in both cases and produced sensational headlines. Both of them did crime after they were acquitted of the murders. Lizzie Borden was however never sentenced again, but she did take up on a bad habit from her youth – shoplifting. This resulted in a police warrant but she was able to make it fair with the shop keepers by paying for what she had stolen. This was not a problem since Lizzie and her sister Emma became millionaires after the death of their father.

But the murder trial was not the last time the American Justice System would hear about Lizzie Borden. There was another incident embarrassing to Lizzie who never moved away from Fall City. Only a few years after acquittal a judge received a letter from a married man accusing his wife of lesbianism and Lizzie’s name was mentioned as evidence from a correspondence. The judge dismissed the accusation as frivolous.

Crime Scene, August 4th 1892 

Abby Borden was killed first and then the killer hid in the house for about one and half hour until Andrew Borden arrived home. One dead body and a killer waiting for one and a half hour in the building without anyone in the household taking ay notice. This murder case must be unique. Andrew came home a bit early that day because he was not feeling well. Upon arrival Andrew is surprised he cannot enter his house, it’s locked. After awhile Lizzie opens the door.

While Abby Borden was clubbed down with the through hatched 19 blows Andrew Borden’s face was hacked out beyond recognition. One of his eyeballs was split. The photos from the crime scene are hideous and Mr Borden had literally no face left! Lizzie also gives the maid Bridget Sullivan alibi. During the trial Lizzie showed some strange behaviour. She was often seen giggling and behaving irrational. Many times she was looking at her lawyer for some support almost asking him how to behave properly. After the trial and Lizzie’s acquaintance Bridget moved from Fall River never to be heard from again. In the town’s Central Church the Borden family owned a pew. Once acquitted Lizzie wanted go back to her church. When she got there she noticed all seats around hers was empty. She understood that people had moved away from her on propose and after the experience she never sat her foot in that church again.

Tensions within the family revealed

There was much tension within the family and the house. The irish maid Bridget Sullivan probably didn’t like working there and she wasn’t even addressed by her own Christian name. Instead the family  used the previous maids name whenever they called on Bridget. At court Bridget was asked bout this – didn’t she find it derogatory?  Bridget Sullivan answered she didn’t mind this.

MUCH OF THE FUSS in the family sprung from Andrew Borden’s marriage to Abby McDuffy. They married 2-3 years after the death of Emma and Lizzie’s biological mother. His daughters never seemed to have accepted the new wife and at one point Lizzie stopped calling Mrs Borden “mother”.

At the age of 32 Lizzie was given 4 dollars a week in pocket-money and it’s possible she thought 4 dollars wasn’t enough for her. The shoplifting also embarrassed her father but he paid all these expenses whenever a shopkeeper needed to talk to him about Lizzie’s behaviour in the store. On one occasion she stole jewellery at home. More tensions arouse in the household as Andrew announced he was going to buy a new house to their stepmother’s sister. When Lizzie and Emma heard this they stopped taking meals together with Abby and prefered eating in another room. It could not have been easy for Abby Borden to be a new mother to these girls and there was a big difference in age between her and Andrew. After the death of his first wife he needed someone to take her place and Abby was unmarried. The marriage was likely not a love match. WHEN the police asked questions about her mother Abby Borden, Lizzie was quick to respond that she was not her real mother, but a stepmother.

The incest-theory has been put forth several times and has been viewed by many as a possible trigger to murder. Especially since victims of incest often blame both parents. Her biological father gave Lizzie his own middle name, Andrew. At her inquest 32 years later she stated her full legal name: Lizzie Andrew Borden. “You were so christened?” the district attorney asked. “I was so christened,” she replied. After the trial Borden would change her first name Lizzie into Lizbeth although she continued to sign legal documents with both names.

And the motive?

It’s suggested money was the prime motive behind the killings of Andrew Borden and his wife Abby. Andrew Borden had worked hard all his life as a business man and upon his death his wealth was worth 8.000.000 dollars. The only persons who could have profited from their deaths were the daughters, Lizzie and Emma Borden. It’s known that Lizzie wanted a better lifestyle and was not happy at the house at 92 2nd Street. It was not a modern place and they had no electricity or any running water installed. Water was drawn from a pump in a sink room. The father refused to move the family elsewhere since the house was located in the city and not too far away from his office. More tensions come forth after her father revealed he was going to change his will including some of his new wife’s relatives. After the trial the sisters inherited their father’s fortune and Lizzie Borden and her sister could finally live at French Street on the Hill.

Emma Borden continued to maintain her belief in her sister’s innocence as long as she lived. She died only nine days after the death of her infamous sister who had left her out of her will. Clause 28 of Lizzie’s will read: “I have not given my sister, Emma L. Borden, anything as she had her share of her father’s estate and is supposed to have enough to make her comfortable.” She signed the will as both Lizzie A. Borden and Lizbeth A. Borden. People who inherited Lizzie Borden were friends, loyal servants and The Animal rescue of Fall River. She also left a huge sum of money to the perpetual care of her father’s gravesite.

Other suspects?

After the killings and the trial there were no more beastly murders involving hatchets around. Things got quiet in Fall river. The sisters sold their old home and moved up to the Hill were other family members already lived. And no other suspect or suspects was heard or inquired. After Lizzie was acquitted the police continued to receive letters from all around the world for years from people who wanted to help solve the case.

The Scottish poems in Lizzie’s house

She had the following lines inscribed on the mantle of her house at French Street. It has the following lines:

“The Green Leaf of Loyalty’s beginning to fall
The Bonnie white Rose it is withering an’ all
But I’ll water it with the Blood of usurping tyranny
And green it will grow in my ain countree”

The Bonnie white rose in the poem may be something she choose to identify with. Another line of poetry is located over the fire-place in Lizzie’s bedroom:

“And old time friends, and twilight plays
And starry nights, and sunny days
Come trouping up the misty ways
When my fire burns low.”

Resources

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/LizzieBorden/bordenhome.html

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/211803/lizzie-border-wasp-florence-king

wikipedia.org [various entries]

Poe’s Literary Sources of Inspiration in “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”

In this post I search for literary parallels (not to be confused with parallelism) in two short stories The Black Cat and The Tell-Tale Heart; by Edgar Allan Poe. Simply, I look for other sources or texts which may have inspired Poe to write these stories. “The Black Cat”story was published in August 1843 and has strong parallels to “The Tell-Tale Heart” published earlier the very same year. The genres for both books are detective stories. According to Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (1997) Quinn states that Poe may have read Charles Dickens ”The Clock-Case” in which a retired soldier kills his young nephew to profit economical from his death. The child had also a sort of gaze which frightened and irritated the soldier (Quinn, 1997 p. 394). Dickens story was published in Master Humphrey’s Clock (1840/41). Compare Dicken’s story with Poe’s ”The Tell-Tale Heart” in which the narrator is deeply disturbed by an old man’s eye. In Poe’s story the narrator’s madness explode after the man’s death because the eye is replaced by the loud beatings of the dead man’s heart which the narrator hears repeatedly in his head. As the policemen enters his house to ask him questions about the whereabouts of the old man he no longer cannot hold himself and confesses the deed.

Edgar_Allan_Poe_daguerreotype_cropNotice, that in the story of “The Black Cat”, the cat Pluto once beloved by the narrator has only one eye. As the narrator goes crazy he thinks the cat harbours the soul of his dead wife. There are other references to  superstitions in the story but the main theme is alcoholism which the narrator battles and looses. Finally, Mr Poe himself was an owner of a black cat in real life.1 Today many scholars refers to Edgar A. Poe as the father of the modern detective story, but he had his sources. Another literary role model was E T A Hoffman. Hoffman’s stories Die Elixiere desTeufels (1815/16) and Das Fräulein von Scuderi (1820) are both in some sense detective stories. However, some critics question if Mme. Scuderi can be thought of as a ”detective” since she doesn’t pose as one even though she does perform some investigations.

Resources

Barger, Andrew (2008). Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems.

Quinn, Arthur H. (1997). Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (Johns Hopskins University Press)

wikipedia.org


  1. In his short article “Instinct vs Reason- A Black Cat” Poe reveals: “The writer of this article is the owner of one of the most remarkable black cats in the world – and this is saying much; for it will be remembered that black cats are all of them witches.” (Barger 2008, p. 58)